It is a juxtaposed situation in Nepal at the moment. While natural and health disaster like rains, coronavirus and dengue are affecting the lives of the population in an adverse manner, politicians are busy scheming how to secure their sets of power during the upcoming elections. Didn’t the people elect these politicians to come to their rescue when disaster befalls them? Now they are preparing for another election, not attending to the natural and health disaster befalling their electorates. The time has now come for the people to start questioning those who are planning to contest and come to power. Why should the people give votes? How can they be held accountable for unkept promises? It is high time now that the Nepali citizens start making their elected leaders accountable towards the country and the citizens.
The natural disaster in the form of heavy unprecedented rains leading to floods and landslides are creating havoc in the lives of the people, especially in the Karnali area. Around 19 deaths have been reported according to government data from districts including Kalikot, Humla, Jajarkot, and Mugu. A total of 22 are reported to be missing. Around 13 people, who were attending a funeral rite, have gone missing when a landslide hit in Tilagupha Municipality-4, Kalikot on Sunday.
In Kalikot itself two thousand families have been displaced. There have been reports that agricultural products in districts including Banke have been damaged to such an extent that the livelihoods of the people have been affected massively. According to official data, more than 15,000 people have been affected by inundation in Nepalgunj which has displaced nearly 5000 households. On top of that, the COVID 19 pandemic and dengue viral disease has become a health disaster. The latter has caused 44 deaths. When disaster hits, the vulnerable get affected the most. When politicians contest for votes during elections, they promise to serve the most vulnerable population and reach their doorsteps for votes to get them elected.
Unfortunately, most of these promises go unattended and the same politicians return back to the doorsteps of their electorates only after five years to ask for votes once more! The upcoming November elections are expected to expose the true colours of the politicians. In a multiparty democracy, it is normal for different political parties to form coalition and contest elections so as to form a strong coalition government who can put rules and regulations in place and work for the development of the nation. Nepali political parties have formed coalitions in the past and are doing so now. However, it seems they formed the alliance not to govern and manage the country well but to ensure their own political power. This has paved paths for corruption and impunity to flourish and put the development of the nation in the backstage. Talking about 2022 elections, the way the forming and breaking of coalitions among different parties have shown that the politicians who are doing this have no foresights to future progress. There is no strategic planning on how to steer the country out of the adverse impacts of the pandemic and how to help the people to have stable livelihood.
The nominations of 2526 candidates have been filed for first-past-the-post model of elections. Although the resolutions of political parties are to have 33 per cent female candidates, the filing of female candidates are less than 10 per cent. There are closed list of candidates for proportional representation which is a provision Nepal’s constitution has to make ensure gender and social inclusion in the parliament. However, here too there is discrimination, nepotism and favouritism. The candidates filed for proportional representation are usually those who are “yes people” who nod to the whims of the leaders rather than capable women and representatives from the communities they represent.
The politicians have agreed to form coalition without considering the ideological values and principles they say they represent. While distributing the tickets, favouritism, nepotism and corruption has been in full action. As a result, many disgruntled politicians have left their parent parties and joined any party that promised them tickets, without considering the ideologies. This has exposed the fact that these politicians have no integrity and principles that leaders are supposed to have. There have also been cases where long term foes have joined hands not for the good of the country but their own personal desires.
The Nepali leaders who opposed the monarchy have shown in many ways that they have a feudal and patriarchal values imbedded so deep inside them. Now the time has come for the Nepali population to show from their votes that enough is enough. No candidate who has crossed the ideologies and principles they have told us they stand for should get votes and no candidate who has already been convicted for different criminal activities or those who have been accused for corruption should get our votes.
Unfortunately, there are several able candidates contesting independently. Having a majority of independent candidates may not be suitable for multiparty democracy. However, if there is a critical mass of the younger generation independent candidates elected, they could raise voice in the parliament against corruption? It could also give a message that Nepal is in an ideological crisis and something needs to be done.
(Namrata Sharma is a journalist and women rights advocate and can be reached at email@example.com Twitter handle: @NamrataSharmaP )